TRAID has launched a new toolkit – Behind the Seams – to support educators to promote education for sustainability. The toolkit explores how we produce, consume and waste clothes to equip young people with the skills and knowledge they need to help shape a more sustainable society.

Marking TRAID’s 20th year, this in-depth education resource builds on the lessons learned from two decades of delivering educational programmes and activities with schools, councils, businesses and communities.

The toolkit is structured around three themes – production, consumption and waste. It contains lesson plans, worksheets, slideshow presentations and factsheets to support educators to deliver the issues covered in innovative and engaging ways. While aimed at KS3 and KS4 teachers, it has been designed to be used and easily adapted by educators and community leaders to explore these topics with people of all ages.

The lesson plans are designed to be stand alone or can be mixed and matched with other lessons from the same or a different theme. This means that educators can use the toolkit in a variety of ways depending on their own preferences and the types of groups they are working with.

With pedagogical advice from Dr Erin Redman from Leuphana University of Luneburg, an expert in sustainable education, the lesson plans are designed to go beyond traditional information dissemination by also building other kinds of knowledge needed for behaviour change. For example: –

How to knowledge builds young people’s capacity for action and connects personal experience or other factors that may encourage or constrain individual action. If we want to encourage more clothes reuse for example, how-to knowledge involves an understanding of how the local recycling system operates, where people can donate clothes and where second-hand clothes or sustainably produced garments can be sourced.

Impact knowledge encompasses people’s perceptions of whether a certain behaviour is worthwhile or desirable. This is mainly determined by an individual’s belief about who or what is responsible for environmental outcomes, as well as the perceived consequences of one’s behaviours. For example, knowing that donating 18 items of clothing to a charity shop rather than throwing them away results in savings of 50 KG of CO2e, which positively impacts the living planet by reducing the UK’s carbon footprint.

Social knowledge relates to those norms that shape what is most commonly done as well as judgements about our behaviour in specific social or cultural contexts. The importance of social norms as a predictor of behaviour is especially significant when we are working to create a more sustainable society as these values help to determine what we ought to sustain and how.

There has never been a greater need to equip the education community with the knowledge, skills and confidence to empower young people to become agents of change. Not only because of the scale of the ecological crisis, but also because of the global commitment to meet the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) in only 11 years. This new toolkit was created to support teachers, schools and community groups to play their unique role in fulfilling this urgent need.

Download the toolkit here.